Hey J.D. Power, didn’t you mean to call it a “dissatisfaction” study?

The latest J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study is out, and the results are as predictable as ever.

Airlines, it concludes, suck.

“Dissatisfaction with cost and fees continues to persist, impeding the return of traditional network carriers to pre-recessionary satisfaction levels,” it concludes. That, despite a small uptick in what it calls “satisfaction” scores.

But let’s take a look at the scores, which are on a scale of 1,000.

Network carriers

1. Alaska Airlines 680
2. Air Canada 678
3. Continental Airlines 661
4. American Airlines 656
5. Delta Air Lines 650
6. United Airlines 640
7. US Airways 625

Low-cost carriers

1. JetBlue Airways 773
2. Southwest Airlines 769
3. WestJet 729
4. AirTran Airways 690
5. Frontier Airlines 688

Why separate “low-cost” and “network” carriers? I have no idea. Southwest isn’t a “low-cost” airline. Maybe they should just change the categories to legacy (pre-deregulation) and post-deregulation airlines, but even then, the division doesn’t make much sense.

Either way, the “low-cost” airlines kick the legacies’ butts, in terms of customer satisfaction. The lowest ranked “low-cost” airline on this chart scores better than the highest-ranked network carrier.

That’s just shameful.

But it’s not as shameful as the overall scores. Does anyone think that a score of 77 out of 100 is acceptable? That’s a gentleman’s “C” in my book, and certainly nothing to brag about. And all of the legacy carriers, with the possible exception of Alaska Airlines and Air Canada, get failing grades.

Maybe J.D. Power should start calling it the North America Airline Dissatisfaction Study.

Related story:   Do you have enough time to make your flight connection?

(Photo: Dea rEdward/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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